AN: Hello, fellow Shakespeare nerds! I read Othello for the first time in September, and I LOVED it. Iago might be my favorite Shakespeare character overall.
So, being the nerd I am, I wrote this, which is basically entirely composed of light/dark imagery and creepiness that smacks of ho yay.
At the far end of the hallway, Iago sat alone.
His eyes were fixed on the door, which was slightly ajar; a wedge of golden light spilled out into the gloom. He was waiting.
There was a taper on the table beside him, already burned down to half its original height. Between the flicker of that flame and the insidious golden glow of bedside candles, he had twin shadows—indistinct and gray and larger than life, clinging to adjacent walls as they kept him company in his vigil.
Outside, the sky was dark as pitch. That sliver of a moon, the wise old crone who had stood witness to their vows, was gone now. She had faded with the death of maidenhood. Oh, it had been so foolish to allow the two to join in matrimony! A fool ruled in Heaven to allow such a thing... Were all above blind to the things to come, or was he blind himself? Somehow he knew in his heart that black and white would be cursed not into delicate gray but bitter scarlet. No, the darkness did not blind him yet.
The candle sputtered in the drafty hall, and his shadows moved with him as he extinguished the flame between two fingers.
A whisper wound into his ear like a serpent, so faint he could not tell if it was real or only imagined—delusion or the wind, demons within or some unconscious truth from nearby sleeping lips? The words meet him either way: oh, honest Iago…
His chest bubbled with a sudden, vicious sort of laughter. The name gave him more pleasure than they would ever know, because there was a truth to it they would never grasp, not even as they lay upon their deathbeds. They called him honest because they saw him so, because they did not know he was a lying wretch. But honesty was the true enemy of the Moor, wasn't it? Othello knew full well that Desdemona was beyond what he deserved; there was no self-delusion there, no blissful deception. So was it not Othello's honesty—and all the insecurities it wrought—that left him so prone to treachery?
To watch them praise their false friend for what they mistakenly thought was a virtue—why, using them like chess pieces was pleasure enough, but hearing them call him thus? That was a privilege.
Iago stood and took five steps towards Othello's bedroom, where his master and his mortal enemy laid defenseless. The wedge of gold stretched across the stone floor, growing and dissipating into a soft yellow stretch of light. He hesitated in the doorway while his eyes adjusted; then he stepped toward the bed.
The newlyweds had fallen asleep without heed for the candles—or, at least, what was left of the candles. Only a tiny length remained; the tall tapers had burned up into so much wax on the brass. Careless, that they would leave them alight by the gauzy curtains while their minds were wrapped in the cotton of pleasant dreams... And there was the Moor, peaceful and unaware, black against the tangle of white sheets—black and white, broken only by the crushed and fragrant rose petals. His alabaster wife slept soundly beside him; her tousled hair formed a dark halo around her head.
They were so opposite, and yet so alike—both so vulnerable, in their minds as well as in their current repose. It would be so simple to kill them both as they dreamed, leaving the consummation of their ill-fated marriage their last act in this life. So easy, and almost merciful… but the game had begun, and what was any of it worth if he didn't get to play?
His left hand, which had drifted unconsciously to the dagger in his belt, now drifted back up; he would kill them both in due time, he was sure, but not that way. Not without giving them a fighting chance, and never by his hands. No, his words alone would lead to their undoing, and then what would he be guilty of? Men lied every day. Men built their lives off of deception, and never tasted the results. Why should his words, remorseless lies as they were, leave the guilt of paranoia and persuasion on his own shoulders? What the man knew, the man knew—Iago would never teach Othello anything new. His words could never change what was in Othello's soul. They only brought out what monstrous things were there already.
The better for all of them, really, if Othello was no more. He had watched time and insecurity corrode the poor man's heart; they would all look on as what was once bright and pure became manic and tarnished. What could Iago do, when he knew what was to come, other than put that damnable light out before it burned away the world?
And if that was so, well, how Othello's heart was like the candle! A melted mess, destroyed by the very light it cast, a danger to all so long as it was left alight—and how easy it would be to extinguish it! One swift puff of air and it was over…
And oh, how the rose petals looked like blood.
Iago blew the candle out with one long, slow breath; the smoke floated up, unseen, and turned to nothing.